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Cornell Atkinson Advances Four Joint Research Projects, Deepens EDF Partnership

The Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will collaborate on four Innovation for Impact Fund (IIF) awards to foster creative collisions that provoke large-scale, long-term impact.

“Bringing a collaborative approach to pressing questions like these allows Cornell and EDF to achieve more insight than either organization could achieve alone,” said David Lodge, Francis J. DiSalvo director of Cornell Atkinson. He added, “The projects selected for funding this year will fulfill our mission to move knowledge to impact in key areas with the potential for large-scale impact.”

The Innovation for Impact Fund has been the catalyst that connects Cornell researchers to joint Cornell-EDF projects. In its first ten years, the Cornell Atkinson IIF has been a funding source for more than 40 projects and brings together academic, NGO, corporate, and government experts to develop and test evidence-based solutions to addresses urgent environmental, public health, and societal challenges.

“Cornell Atkinson’s commitment to carefully matching researchers is a key reason for the success of these joint projects. We are truly co-creating in a way that accelerates our efforts to advance science in ways that can demonstrate impact.” Doria Gordon, Lead Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

2022 Awardees and Projects:

Community-driven Air Quality Advocacy in Manhattan Chinatown:
Despite the disproportionate pollution and death rate from COVID that East Asian immigrants experienced in NYC, they are among the least involved in environmental protection initiatives. Y. Connie Yuan (Communication and Global Development, Cornell), Rainer Romero-Canyas (EDF), and Cornell Atkinson Postdoc Cindy Lin (Penn State University) will research how cultural norms and tensions among Chinese immigrant sub-groups shape community advocacy in environmental protection efforts. Researchers will conduct interviews and develop relevant messaging in multiple languages to be used as a basis for conversations around air quality issues in Chinatown and future outreach programs.

Cooperative Strategies for Just and Ecological Adaptation to Flooding in New York City
Federal funding for post-disaster response and climate adaptation favors single-family housing, challenging support for the multifamily housing that characterizes most of where people of color live. Low-income housing, especially for racialized minorities, is often sited in less desirable, flood-prone areas. Silos among researchers and practitioners working on climate adaptation and those working on housing and advocacy impede the design of just and ecologically adaptive housing strategies. Linda Shi (City and Regional Planning, Cornell) and Kate Boicourt (EDF) will assist the new NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice in connecting housing advocacy groups, community organizations, academics, and government staff to develop strategies for more equitable flood relief.

Updating Global Spatial Datasets of Livestock Production and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Overconsumption of animal source foods has led to significant environmental issues and health problemsThis project will create a framework for using machine learning to constantly update a global livestock production and emissions dataset, first developed by Mario Herrero (Global Development, Cornell) and partners over fifteen years ago. The updated datasets will provide timely and relevant information to inform sustainability-related policy. Herrero and Joe Rudek (EDF) will lead the research.  

Understanding Urban Landscape Effects for More Actionable Hyperlocal Air Pollution Estimates: Improving air quality in cities in the U.S. and worldwide is one of the key aspects of building sustainable and healthy communities. Qi Li (Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell), Lauren Padilla (EDF), and Tammy Thompson (EDF) will harness data collected by Google Street Maps to assess air pollution at the pedestrian level. After the first year, this research will establish the foundation for several future research directions.

The Innovation for Impact Fund is one of many sources of collaborative research funding at Cornell Atkinson and is made possible through generous support from Cornell alumni and friends. Learn more about Cornell Atkinson research and training programs.

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